ZIMBABWE ELECTION SUPPORT NETWORK [ZESN] REPORT ON THE ZIMBABWE 29 MARCH HARMONISED ELECTION AND 27 JUNE 2008 PRESIDENTIAL RUN-OFF.

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1 ZIMBABWE ELECTION SUPPORT NETWORK [ZESN] REPORT ON THE ZIMBABWE 29 MARCH HARMONISED ELECTION AND 27 JUNE 2008 PRESIDENTIAL RUN-OFF Advance Copy AUGUST

2 TABLE OF CONTENTS CONTENTS PAGE Foreword Acknowledgements Acronyms Executive Summary Chapter One: Historical and Political Background of Elections Historical Background The Post Political Actors Emerging Political Issues Relations with the West Chapter Two: Legal, Institutional and Electoral Frameworks Legal Framework Institutional Framework Electoral Framework Legality of the June 27 Run Off Chapter Three: Electoral Processes and Enforcement Gaps Voter Registration and Inspection Delimitation Nomination Processes Voter Education Processes Polling Procedures Postal Voting Counting and Tabulation of Results Recounts Media Coverage of Elections Accreditation of Observers Civil Society Organization Conflict Management Electoral Offences Polling Stations Chapter Four: Pre-29 March Harmonized Election Campaigns and Polling Results Electoral Environment Political Campaigns Primary Elections Use of Public Resources Involvement of Security Forces Traditional Leaders The 29 March Poll

3 Voting Closing Of Polling Stations Poll Projections Counting and Tabulation of Results Release of Results Local Authority Results Acess to Electoral Processes By Groups With Special Needs Petitions and Recounts Presidential Results Chapter Five: The Run Up to the 27 June Presidential Run Off Trends and Patterns of Violence Harassment of Human Rights NGOs & HR Defenders ZESN Under Seige Use of State Resources Voter Education Accreditation of International Observers and Journalist Election Administration Media Coverage of Political Parties Withdrawal Of The MDC Presidential Candidate Calls for Postponement of the Run Off Chapter Six: The 27 June Presidential Run off Electoral Framework By-Elections Polling Day Scenarios Analysis of June Poll Results The Spoilt Ballot Vote Phenomenon Reviews of the June Elections Conclusion Recommendations REFERENCES ANNEXURES ANNEXURE 1: March 29 Presidential Election Results ANNEXURE 2: March 29 House of Assembly Election Results ANNEXURE 3: March 29 Senatorial Election Results ANNEXURE 4: March 29 Local Authority Election Results ANNEXURE 5: June 27 Presidential Run Off Election Results

4 Foreword The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN), is a network of 38 independent, non-partisan, nongovernmental organizations promoting democratic elections in Zimbabwe. It has been observing all aspects of elections since its inception in ZESN utilizes the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Principles and Guidelines Governing the Conduct of Democratic Elections as the yardstick to measure the conduct of an election. The democratization process in Africa in general and Zimbabwe in particular has taken a long winding road that has resulted in electoral outcomes that have been at best acknowledged and at worst condemned. The oscillating executive decisions on the conduct of elections in respective countries have resulted in Africa being labeled emerging democracies even where the country in particular attained independence three decades ago. Democracy has been associated with elections and yet it is in danger of authoritarian manipulation. Historically, elections have been an instrument of authoritarian control as well as a means of democratic governance. The relative importance of elections in the democratization process is key in that the success of any democracy depends primarily on the conduct of participatory, competitive politics particularly free and fair elections that render legitimacy to the incumbent. However, elections in themselves are not sufficient to ensure democracy because even military juntas also hold elections to try and buy legitimacy from their victims. Electoral experiences, especially in Africa suggest their potential double-edged nature. On one hand by organizing periodic elections, governments create some semblance of democratic legitimacy and at the same time by placing those elections under tight authoritarian controls they try to cement their continued hold on power. Their dream is to reap the fruits of electoral legitimacy without running the risks of democratic uncertainty. Balancing between electoral control and electoral credibility, governments situate themselves in a nebulous zone of structural ambivalence. ZESN however, believes the democratization road must start with inclusive, participatory, free and fair elections. It also believes that elections form a fundamental value upon which democracy can lay its solid foundation. The fundamental concept that electoral reform will ultimately lead to broader political and economic reform is critical. The idea that electoralism alone suffices is fast losing ground as the modern thinking denotes that it should be in tandem with the respect for human freedoms and choices, contestation and participation which ultimately leads to legitimacy. The March 27, 2008 harmonized election was relatively calm with less incidents of political violence. The polling processes were generally smooth without serious problems. The period leading to the run off witnessed a dramatic down ward shift election in terms of election environment, processes and management which resulted in the election being condemned by regional member states as well as local civil society organisations and individuals, which ultimately led to a contested election. ZESN s vision is a Zimbabwe where democratic electoral environment and processes are upheld. This vision can only be realized where the political environment is conducive for holding free and fair elections, where citizens are free to form, join and support conflicting parties, candidates and policies, 4

5 where they can choose from available alternatives through access to alternative sources of information. Democratic elections can only take place where equal rights of participation are accorded to all full members of a political community and where they are free to express their electoral preferences. Reserved positions, the politics of exclusion, violence and intimidation, repression of civil liberties, unfair access to the media, coercion and fraud as well as preventing elected officials from taking offices or concluding their terms of office are all political machinations that reverse democracy and ultimately development. It is believed that electoral reforms recommended by ZESN in this report will assist the country in fastening the pace of democratization. 5

6 Acknowledgements ZESN would like to express its profound gratitude to its board that has worked tirelessly to ensure that the organization is guided by prudent policies and regulations and for their promptness in dealing with emerging crises which were in abundance in the run-up, during and after the 2008 harmonized election. Our heart-felt gratitude goes to the National and Provincial Task force members who worked flat out months before and after the election to ensure the smooth implementation of election observation. We would also like to express our appreciation to Long Term Observers and community Educators who worked under very trying and risky times to ensure that the organization receives accurate, verified and up-to date information on political developments during and after the election. We appreciate the role played by Short Term Observers and drivers who risked their lives by observing the harmonized election the Presidential run-off. We are eternally grateful to our development partners who ensured that our dreams are realized and who were flexible given the political environment that obtained in Zimbabwe. Our appreciation goes to ZESN Secretariat for their hard work, efficiency and effectiveness in managing all the programmes. We express our deepest sadness to our ZESN Observer Elliot Machipisa who was killed in cold blood in Hurungwe for his desire and dream to see a democratic Zimbabwe. He left behind a wife and two daughters aged six and eight. Last but definitely not the least we appreciate and congradulate every voter on the Zimbabwe voters roll who exercise their right to choose in every election. We all hope that the electoral reforms recommended by ZESN if adopted would lead to a more democratic state. 6

7 ACRONYMS AIPPA AU FPTP GNU MDC MISA NASCOH NCA NGOs POSA SADC SADC-EU UPP USA ZANU PF ZDP ZEC ZESN ZLHR ZPPDP ZYA ZNA ZUPCO : Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act : African Union : First Past the Post : Government of National Unity : Movement for Democratic Change : Media Information in Southern Africa : National Associations for the Care of the Handicapped : National Constitutional Assembly : Non Governmental Organizations : Public Order and Security Act : Southern African Development Community : Southern African Development Community European Union : United People s Party : United States of America : Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front : Zimbabwe Democratic Party : Zimbabwe Electoral Commission : Zimbabwe Electoral Support Network : Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights : Zimbabwe People s Democratic Party : Zimbabwe Youth in Alliance : Zimbabwe National Army : Zimbabwe United Passenger Company 7

8 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY While the 29 March Harmonized Election and 27 the June Presidential Run Off have come and gone, they are poised to leave an indelible imprint in Zimbabwe s post independence electoral history. The limelight and controversy they generated within regional and global contexts have no local electoral parallels save those witnessed during the legendary 1980 Independence Election. They set in motion a chain of events which if not urgently addressed are set to see the current socio-economic meltdown in the country worsening to unprecedented levels. For the first time in its history, Zimbabwe went for almost half a year without a popularly elected Government in place, for that matter at a time when bold decisions were needed to bail out the country from its socio-economic meltdown. Controversial as they were, the elections marked a significant departure from past electoral experiences. For the first time since independence in 1980, Zimbabwe conducted four elections rolled in one, hence harmonized elections. Until 2005, presidential and parliamentary elections were held separately with presidential elections after every five years and parliamentary elections after every six years. In contrast to the overly restrictive electoral frameworks under which past elections were conducted, the 29 March and 27 June Elections were conducted under a visibly reconstituted electoral framework following the Electoral Laws Amendment Act [2008] and amendments to POSA, AIPPA and the Public Broadcasting Act. Also, votes were to be counted at polling stations, presiding officers obliged to record them on Return Forms [VIIs] and post them outside polling stations before submitting them to constituency centers, electoral changes that visibly enhanced transparency and accountability in the counting and tabulation of election results. Equally instructive is to note that while in past elections a presidential candidate with the highest number of votes, even if below 50% of the total vote cast would be eligible for presidency, the 29 March s new electoral dispensation mandated the presidential candidate to meet a stipulated 50% + 1 vote. Also unlike in previous elections, the electoral framework explicitly provided for a run-off and also outlined the specific frameworks that will apply in the event of this scenario, thus attaching a precautionary measure never attached before to any election. The electoral administrative framework was also reconstituted with the dissolution and placing of the functions initially undertaken by the Delimitation Commission, the Electoral Supervisory Commission under the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission with the Registrar- General of Elections and the Election Directorate directly under it. However, as shown in the section below, the electoral framework is still fraught with several gaps, in need of urgent intervention. While the run up to the 29 March Harmonized Elections and the polling day itself were relatively calm, post poll scenarios cast an incomparable trend. For the first time in the nation s post independence electoral history, the electorate had to contend with an anxietyladen six-week delay in the release of the presidential poll. 8

9 The delay was so unprecedented that the regional body, SADC, was galvanized into convening an emergency meeting in Lusaka [Zambia] to drum up pressure for the release of presidential results in Zimbabwe. As if this delay was not nerve-racking enough, the Zimbabwean voter was in for yet another electoral first when ZEC, the body tasked for the overall management of elections, ordered a recount of results in 23 constituencies before the release of the presidential poll, a decision that generated animated debates and speculations within and across the globe. When the results were finally released on 2 May 2008, it took almost two weeks to have the run-off date announced on 15 May 2008 during which the run up to the run off degenerated into a run over leaving in its wake a trail of destruction, houses burnt down, many people displaced and homeless, many children orphaned, and community relations torn asunder. Freedom of assembly and movement were heavily restricted with rural areas virtually sealed off from opposition rallies, the opposition leadership subjected to sporadic arrests and detentions, their campaign activities under total blackout on national electronic and press media. Hate speech, incitement of violence, and threats of war characterized electoral campaigns, with the ruling party presidential candidate threatening to go back to war if he lost the election to the MDC presidential candidate, whom he considered a puppet of the West. The intensity with which this retributive violence was perpetrated was so shocking that a week to the 27 June run-off saw Thabo Mbeki, the South African President making spirited effort to cancel the run-off, urging ZANU PF and the MDC to bury their hatchets and start negotiating for a Government of National Unity [GNU], a suggestion which however did not carry the day as Zimbabwe defiantly went ahead with the Election. Calls for the cancellation of the run off were also echoed by African luminaries such as Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu and Kofi Annan, as well as from the UN Secretary General, Britain and United States of America. On 21 June 2008, the MDC presidential aspirant withdrew from the race alleging gross retributive state violence against his supporters, a development that relegated the election to a one-horse run off. The Polling Day was characterized by poor voter turnout in urban areas, an extraordinarily high number of spoilt ballots [ in the March Election against in the June Election] with a significant number reportedly carrying insulting messages, an unusually high number of assisted voters, and recording of serial numbers, incidents that point to a banal breach of voter rights and secrecy. In most rural constituencies, voters were reportedly herded to polling stations by traditional leaders, instructed to vote for the ruling party candidate and also ordered to record their ballot papers serial numbers and after polling give them to the local leaders. Soldiers and police presence was reportedly heavy such that in some cases their presence reportedly overshadowed that of voters. In stark contrast to the six week delay that accompanied the release of the 29 March elections, the 27 June results were speedily released and within 24 hours, the winner had been sworn in as President of Zimbabwe at a function whose regional and international presence however least resembled past experiences. The 27 June run-off received round condemnation in both process and outcome with a number of countries such as Botswana, Zambia, Britain and the United States openly 9

10 declaring their rejection of the elections, terms such as farce and sham generally used to characterize it. The Government of Botswana openly called for the expulsion of Zimbabwe from the SADC and the AU while the African National Congress youth league Chairman Julius Malema called the run off a joke of the worst order. Reports by the Pan African Parliament Observer Team, the African Union Observer Mission, the Botswana Observer Team, and the SADC Election Observer Mission [SEOM] Preliminary Report also roundly condemned the election process and outcome as generally not giving rise to the conduct of free, fair and credible elections, falling short of accepted AU standards, not representing the will of the people of Zimbabwe, not conforming to SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections, among other characterizations. The Group of Eminent African leaders that include Nelson Mandela also expressed visible disquiet on the conduct of elections, generally describing the election as illegitimate and in fact a dark patchy in Africa s electoral history. Observed Electoral Gaps and the way forward Such a highly agitated electoral environment hardly suffices for free and fair elections. The two political parties must engage in power-sharing talks in order to find a lasting solution to the political impasse. Such dialogues should however be guided by the will of the people as anything short of that constitutes a truce and not a permanent settlement. The message of zero tolerance to political violence must also cascade from the top leadership structures to the grassroots, with political leaders publicly denouncing political violence in both words and action. While Zimbabwe continues to conduct its elections within the Westminster system of first past the post [FPTP] based on the winner- take-all model, the solution to the political stalemate in Zimbabwe lies in an electoral paradigmatic shift to more inclusive, accommodating, win-win electoral systems based on proportional representation [for Senate] and Mixed Electoral Models [for the Lower House]. On voter registration and inspection of the Voters Roll, it was noted with concern that the exercise started late with little time allocated for voter registration and inspection; that the voters roll is not up to date and that the problem of ghost voters remains a problem and that in some cases, insufficient and incorrect information was provided to citizens about the registration process. Voter registration must be approached as an ongoing process, stringent requirements which discourage people from registering as voters must be done away with, and that the voter registration exercise be sufficiently publicized to ensure maximum voter participation. While the Electoral Act obliges ZEC to conduct voter education it was disturbing to note that voter education started late and in some cases with reports of little voter education having been conducted by ZEC by the time of elections. ZEC should be availed with adequate resources for voter education and that adequate monitoring mechanisms should be put in place to ensure that voter education is conducted in a uniform, professional and non-partisan manner. ZEC should also provide more space to NGOs to provide gap filling voter education. Although ZEC now has direct responsibility over the delimitation exercise, its management of the delimitation process was far from satisfactory. Insufficient time was allowed for people and parliamentarians to participate in the process. The final Delimitation Report was tabled in Parliament very late in the electoral process leaving little time to educate the public on 10

11 changes to boundaries [ward and constituencies]. Delays in the finalization of the delimitation exercise resulted in voter registration and inspections being done before the exercise leading to costly re-runs of primaries in several constituencies. ZEC must be obliged to give public notice before embarking on a delimitation exercise and so far as is practicable within the time available entertain representations from political parties and other interested parties who are likely to be affected by it. While the nomination exercises were largely transparent, it was noted with concern that some nomination papers were in some cases rejected or disqualified on the basis of avoidable reasons such as inadequate papers, candidates being nominated by persons who are not registered as voters and in some cases prospective candidates names not appearing on the voters roll. To avoid such unnecessary rejections of nomination papers, prospective candidates should ensure that their papers are in order well in advance. Information on ward and constituency boundaries should also be timely availed so that nominees are identified from the correct wards. While in the run up to the 29 March Election there was visible effort to accord some reasonable access to the media to all political parties, it was distressing to note that in the run up to the run- off the state media prominently featured ruling party political advertisements and messages to the total exclusion of MDC T. In those few instances where reference was made to the MDC T, the messages were ZANU PF sponsored and intended to disparage, de-campaign and discredit the opposition candidate in all forms. Ideally before the next elections in Zimbabwe, more broadcasters [independent radio and television stations] should be allowed to start operating so that the public can receive a greater diversity of information and viewpoints. The Electoral Commission should also be more proactive in its monitoring of public broadcasters during the election period to ensure that they observe these provisions. Accreditation of local and international observers is too restricted. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Justice still wield veto powers on which groups should be accredited. The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission must have the decisive say on which observers to accredit without any ministerial veto power as is currently the case. ZEC should also accredit sufficient numbers of local and international observers to allow comprehensive observation of elections and at the same time guaranteeing the security of independent and domestic election observers. Postal voting in Zimbabwe remains controversial, shrouded in secrecy and inaccessible to observers. It is strongly recommended that the doctrine of secrecy that is applied to other electoral processes must also apply to postal voting. The Electoral Commission should also be given the power to establish a system that allows Zimbabweans living outside the country [diaspora voters] to vote by post if they are unable to return to Zimbabwe to cast their votes. On the issue of voting of assisted voters, it is noted with deep concern that reports of literate voters being forced to profess illiteracy and seek Assisted Voter status continue to be received. Measures must be promptly put in place to stop this abuse. The secrecy of their ballot is also questionable. To safeguard the secrecy of their ballot and also avoid intimidation and possible future retribution, they should be assisted to vote by a trusted friend or relative. The partisan role of the police, army and prison officers remains a major electoral concern. Cases where acts of violence have been committed either directly by state services or in 11

12 their full view have also been fully documented. Security forces should conduct themselves in a professional and non-partisan manner and should not serve the interests of individual political parties. While the presence of police officers at polling stations is to maintain order, deployment of large numbers of security forces at polling stations could lead to voter intimidation. Also disturbing is the growing partisan role of traditional leadership in politics. Reports of traditional leaders who were actively involved in political campaigns, campaigning for the ruling party, threatening known or suspected opposition supporters with eviction from their fiefdoms or, ordering opposition supporters facing threats of eviction to pay a fine of an ox in order to be forgiven were widespread. Such practices are in total breach of their traditional god-fatherly role in their communities. Traditional leaders must remain apolitical, embracing all their subjects regardless of their political persuasion and allowing their subjects to exercise their freedom of choice and association. The Electoral Court is not well capacitated to hear and make timely resolutions to all electionrelated appeals within six months of the date of their submission with most pre-election petitions finally cleared after elections. For the Electoral Court to resolve disputes expeditiously before the election takes place there is need for competent, effective, independent and impartial Judiciary and electoral institutions. There is also need to complement the judges of the Electoral Court with staff, equipment and adequate resources. Sound election administration is critical in building political party confidence in the conduct of elections. However ZEC s management of the delimitation, nomination, voter education, voter registration and inspection processes and release of the 29 March presidential results was cause for concern. ZEC s neutrality and ability to work without being influenced by political parties is highly suspect yet such impartiality and autonomy is needed to enlist the confidence of the electorate, political parties, and civic society. ZESN therefore recommends that an independent and more professional, all-inclusive, accountable and politically independent Election Management Body be established to run elections. The Body should be appointed with the participation of opposition parties and key stakeholders. Such a Body should be financed from the Consolidated Fund with its accountability to parliament and not to the Minister or President which is currently the case. The Political Impasse To resolve the political impasse that has been dogging Zimbabwe since the emergence of the MDC in 2000, the political leadership of the main political parties urgently engage in hard talk and will of the people driven power sharing talks drawing lessons similar experiences in other countries. However, promising as it is, power-sharing is no stroll in a garden park. Finding a solution to the Zimbabwe crisis is not going to be easy given the tangent stance of the main political actors. How far each of the principals is prepared to climb down from their positions and how far the mediator will manage the process will be decisive in determining either the collapse or the success of the negotiations. Particular sticky issues are the basis of the proposed power-sharing. Is the basis the 27 June poll or 29 March poll results? This question is particularly burning given that both contenders have hard-line positions on this sticky issue. How the mediator will handle this tricky question without shortchanging the will of the people will prove a test case of his mediation 12

13 management capacity. Also imperative is the need to agree on who will head the proposed power-sharing arrangement? Who will wield executive/ceremonial powers? How are ministerial responsibilities to be shared? How is the issue of violence to be addressed? Is the arrangement a transition to elections or an end in itself? These questions are particularly tricky given the ideological and personality differences and mistrust between the two main political actors. Against this background ZESN and all peace loving citizens fervently hope that the traditional obstacles that have been standing in the way of the SADC-brokered talks since 2004 will be kept at bay. When all is said and done, the 27 Presidential Run Off in Zimbabwe was a sad story of an election without democracy. This election experience suggests that while the idea of democracy is intimately linked to elections, in practice the two do not necessarily add up. Even undemocratic regimes hold periodic elections in order to give some semblance of democratic legitimacy. 13

14 CHAPTER ONE HISTORICAL AND POLITICAL BACKGROUND OF ELECTIONS Historical Background Elections do not occur in social vacuum. They take place within specific historical and political contexts. Unfolding historical and political developments directly and indirectly influence the electoral processes of the country. In fact, they constitute the macro environmental contexts within which elections are conducted. Political and historical contexts define the play field, determine the rules and the play of the game as well as the policy issues that inform and underpin election campaigns. Electoral processes and practices at a given time, mirror political scenarios aground. Where the political climate is tense, agitated, and polarized, election campaigns have generally been marred with violence. Understanding of the politics and history of the country is therefore critical in unraveling the political behavior of election contenders. Also instructive to note is that the liberation struggle was a protracted search for the right to majority enfranchisement, a basic citizen democratic right that is exercised through periodic elections. Periodic elections not only allow citizen participation in political processes but also allow the country s citizens to define their socio-economic destiny by choosing a government of their choice. A freely exercised vote therefore expresses the political will of the people in a given country. The 1980 Election undertaken within the framework of the 1979 Lancaster House Constitution provided Zimbabwe s eight million black majority citizens with the first experience to exercise their political right of enfranchisement. The 1980 Election therefore symbolizes a departure from exclusionary politics. Through that first election, monitored and observed by the regional and global community, black Zimbabweans expressed their collective will through the ballot box, a political will that led to the first government of Zimbabwe, a Government of National Unity [GNU] comprising ZANU [with 57 parliamentary seats], ZAPU [with 20 parliamentary seats], UANC [with 3 parliamentary seats] with 20 parliamentary seats [constitutionally reserved for Whites until 1987 in the Lancaster Constitution. In this case, a GNU that is based on the vote [will of the people] is not a novelty in Zimbabwe. Since 1980, elections have been a very visible feature of post independence politics in Zimbabwe, hence the 1985 Election, the 1990 Election, the 1995 Election, the 2002 Election and the 2005 Elections. These elections have to be situated within first and second decade political developments such as the civil conflict in Matebeleland and Midlands [ ], the Unity Accord between ZANU and ZAPU in 1987, the emergence of ZUM and its vigorous opposition to the idea of one party legislation in the 1990s, the emergence of vibrant opposition party in 2000, rejection of the Draft Constitution, the shift to Fast Track Land Reform Program, human rights issues and manner of implementation of the reform program estranged relations with the West, adoption of SADC Principles and Guidelines on Democratic Elections in 2004, among others. The interplay of historical and political factors during this period also had a direct bearing on voting trends. While the first three elections had sustained voter interest, the period 1985 to 1995 was generally characterized by voter apathy. From an estimated turnout of 94 % in 1980, the proportion declined steadily over the years to 84% in 1985 and 47% in The 14

15 emergence and participation of ZUM in the 1995 elections somehow galvanized voter interest, though it was short lived. The Post 2000 Era The post 1999 saw a resurgence of more competitive party politics with increases in voter turnout in the 2000 election in quantitative terms. Out of 5.04 million registered voters, about 2.5 million voted in the election. The post 2000 era therefore marked a watershed in voter turnout trends. The Constitution Reform process and the 2000 Referendum revived interest in national politics. The NO VOTE result in a way revealed that ZANU PF was not as invincible as was generally supposed. The 2000 election also marked a watershed in that it put to an end the de facto one-party state situation when the MDC won 57 out of the 120 directly elected seats. The election signaled stiff competition between ZANU PF and MDC. On a negative note, the 2000 and 2002 elections also marked descent into widespread violence, coercion and intimidation with over 150 people reportedly killed [ZPP Report, 2006]. The run up to the 2002 presidential elections was one of the most politically volatile post independence election eras ever experienced in Zimbabwe. It experienced the highest record of gross forms of violence in comparison with the Topping the list in terms of election violations were the four provinces of Manicaland, Mashonaland East, Masvingo and the Midlands with Mashonaland West and Central as serious hot spot contenders. These provinces are incidentally ruling party strongholds. Election violence also took the form of hate speech and hate politics from both main presidential contenders, however with ruling party candidates on the lead, ruling party political rallies generally laced with slogans such as Pasi ne MDC, fist pointing, use of military language, swearing, labeling of other contestants as enemies of the state, sellouts and stooges of the West, betrayers of the revolution and declarations by the service chiefs that they would not salute any presidential winner who does not have war liberation war credentials. This escalation in violence in the run up to the 2002 presidential elections has to be understood within the context of the emergence of the MDC and its visible inroads into areas that had hitherto been ruling party strongholds. Organized violence may have been utilized as a political weapon designed to fence off rural areas from opposition penetration. Also instructive is to note that the 2002 presidential elections had occurred hot on the heels of a shocking NO VOTE referendum, a vote out-turn which the ruling party interpreted as part of a grand imperialist strategy by the MDC, the white commercial farmer and the British to stab the ZANU PF-initiated land acquisition agenda on the back. Thus, within ruling party thinking, the NO VOTE was a warning signal that its liberation agenda was under siege. It was in these contexts that restrictive pieces of legislation such as the Public Order and Security Act [POSA] and Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act [AIPPA], developments which political analysts liken to the Smith Regime which relied on an array of repressive measures [for instance, the notorious Law and Order [Maintenance] Act] which had given virtually unlimited powers to the government to search private homes, ban or restrict public gatherings, ban publications and break labor strikes, among other things. The resuscitation of the land issue and its quick conversion into an election campaign political good tensed up the political temperature and polarized society as criticism of land implementation was treated as total rejection of the land redistribution agenda and what the 15

16 liberation war was fought for. Relations between the government and UK, USA and organizations such as the Commonwealth and European Union also took a worse turn. However on a positive note, the era was witness to the adoption of the SADC Principles and Guidelines governing the conduct of democratic elections in 2004, although compliance with these Guidelines has remained a major electoral challenge in Zimbabwe. The period also witnessed the re-introduction of the Upper House [Senate], a development which however resulted in a split in the MDC into MDC T and MDC over whether or not to participate in Senate elections, with the former being anti-senate while the latter was pro-senate. The Post 2005 Election The 2008 Elections were conducted against a background of deep-rooted political and economic meltdown. On the economic front, Zimbabwe was grappling with its worst economic recession characterized by runaway inflation of over 1 million percent, acute basic commodity, drugs fuel, and foreign currency shortages, and flight of skilled manpower and power cuts. On the political front, the elections came at a time when all that has been tried to solve the Zimbabwean crisis through smart sanctions, SADC-brokered negotiations appeared to be floundering. The SADC-brokered talks between the two political parties mediated by the South African president Thabo Mbeki that had been going on and off since 2004 had reportedly reached a stalemate. South Africa s policy of engagement or quite diplomacy was increasingly under threat, the South African president accused of treating ZANU PF with kid gloves. There was a growing feeling within the MDC, civic groups and some African Heads of States to view the Zimbabwe crisis as an African issue rather than a mere SADC issue. In October 2007, Senegalese President Wade had recommended a shift to multilateral mediation by African Heads of State, arguing that Mbeki should not be the only one to handle the Zimbabwean crisis, a recommendation which was rejected by both Mbeki and Mugabe who argued that there should not be any other initiative other than the SADC one. There were also increasing calls for the two main political parties, ZANU PF and the MDC, to abandon their hard-line positions. ZANU PF as the ruling party was exhorted to realize that it needs the help of the MDC, all patriotic Zimbabweans and the international community to untangle itself from the political mess aground. They were called upon to involve elements from the ruling party, the two formations of the MDC, other opposition groups, civic society organizations, churches, labor unions, student movements and the business community. This third way initiative gained currency against growing realization that the two main contending factions, ZANU PF and MDC, were experiencing deep seated internal feuding that posed a threat to their political survival and their political will to hold on to on-going talks. Political Actors While the 29 March Harmonized Elections saw around eight political parties [ZANU PF, MDC T, MDC, Mavambo, UPP, FDU, PUMA, ZDP, and ZPPDP] and independents registering for elections, the contest was mainly between ZANU and the MDC T as the visibility of the other political parties remained on paper. However, the MDC as the main opposition election contender was home to factional and leadership feuding. Allegations of political in-fights within MDC were vindicated when a simple issue of whether or not to participate in the senatorial elections of 2005 left the MDC split into an anti-senate MDC Tsvangirai and a pro-senate MDC Mutambara wing. Despite spirited calls to forge a re-union, MDC participated in the 29 March 2008 Elections a divided house, a development that proved costly to both factions as ZANU PF was quick to capitalize on these divisions and captured some seats in what were 16

17 generally perceived to be strong MDC strongholds. The period also saw the MDC abandoning its traditional strategy of mass action to one of engagement with its political rivalry, ZANU PF. Confrontation as a strategy to dislodge ZANU PF has not been effective because of repressive legislation, a highly partisan police and state security service. The ruling party entered the 29 March Election virtually a limping party with widespread reports of brewing fissures and cracks within the party. It was in essence a party at war with itself. These internal rumblings though muffled, reportedly gravitated around the succession issue, a leadership crisis that has been simmering as far back as late 1990s, with the famous Mugabe must go Mavhaire parliamentary motion and the Mkoba MP, Fredrick Shaba s Mugabe must not continually succeed himself, among others. Flashes of these sentiments were also manifest during the provincial consultations on Constitutional Reforms in In the run up to the December 2007 Special Congress, ZANU PF power struggle had reportedly intensified with an alleged faction calling for the endorsement of President Mugabe as the ruling party s presidential election candidacy while another alleged rival faction was reportedly calling for the replacement of President Mugabe as the ruling party s presidential election candidacy. A statement by ZANU PF spokesman, a week before the special Congress that the congress would have the election of the presidency as the main thing, to some extent indicates that the posts of President and his deputies as well as party chair were going to be reviewed. Also of significance were the November-December 2007 solidarity marches organized by war veterans led by Jabulani Sibanda in the ten provinces across the country in support of Robert Mugabe as the ruling party presidential candidate. War veterans, reportedly used this as an opportunity to lobby for a parliamentary quota system for the ex-combatants, arguing that they had been marginalized for too long. A competitive edge was added to the electoral landscape when the ZANU PF politiburo member Simba Makoni announced that he would contest the presidency as an independent candidate. Makoni s announcement caught the country by surprise considering that ZANU PF had given the nation the impression that President Mugabe had been unanimously endorsed as the party s candidate. Simba Makoni s entrance into the presidential race gave the electorate broader choice of representatives in this election, some link the current political impasse to this development arguing the entry into the presidential race has divided the votes from both the MDC and ZANU PF leading to the run off. There were also media reports that former Minister of Information, Jonathan Moyo and former Harare South legislator Margaret Dongo had filed court papers challenging the nomination court date that had been set by President Mugabe. The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission also announced that the inspection of the voters roll would be conducted between 1 and 7 February 2008, however later extended to 14 February Inspection was to be conducted countrywide at an estimated 5000 inspection centers. 17

18 Emerging Political Issues Also of electoral significance were the SADC brokered talks aimed at forging working relations between the two main political actors, ZANU PF and the MDC. The need for the two political parties to forge unity was as far back as With continued socioeconomic meltdown in the post 2005 era, the two political parties came under renewed pressure to engage each other for the sake of development. While negotiations have been on and off, of electoral significance were agreements made to pass the Zimbabwe Constitutional Amendment No. 18 of 2007 which resulted among other things, in electoral law reforms relating to delimitation of boundaries, voter registration, tabulation of election results and media coverage, among others. However, the adoption of Constitutional Amendment No. 18 of 2007 generated much debate with MDC stakeholders threatening to disown the MDC for failing to consult them prior to agreement. NGOs such as ZESN, Zimbabwe Restoration of Human Rights, NCA, Crisis Zimbabwe Coalition, MISA, ZLHR etc issued communiqués expressing disquiet over its adoption. In fact, for a number of civic groups, the agreement amounted to a climb-down on the part of the MDC. Of general concern to civic groups and the attentive public were aspects of the Bill which sought to allow Parliament to elect a new President to replace one who dies, resigns or is removed from office without specifying any particular majority by which a new President must be elected. This change, as argued by ZESN, was undemocratic as it goes against constitution [section 28[2] that an executive president must be elected by popular vote. No reason, including the fact that elections are expensive, cannot justify a provision that would allow an executive President to hold office without a popular mandate. The Bill also sought to change the composition of the Senate and House of Assembly. The Senate then comprised 66 Senators, of whom 50 were elected on a constituency basis, 10 being chiefs and six appointed by the President. The change in the Bill therefore meant enlarging the Senate from 50 to 93 of whom 60 were to be directly elected on a constituency basis, 10 provincial governors, 18 chiefs and five appointed by the President. Before the Bill, the House of Assembly consisted of 120 elected members, 10 provincial governors, eight chiefs and 12 presidential appointees. Under the Bill the House was going to have 210 members all of whom were directly elected by the people on a constituency basis. This increase in the number of seats in Parliament was viewed as an undesirable and fiscally unjustifiable development which was poised to escalate the expenses of running parliament. A reduction in the number of MPs who owe their seats to the President is most welcome. Both Houses of Parliament must be elected with the President appointing none to their seats. The fundamental point was that the Executive must not be allowed to appoint any members of the Legislature and governors at all. The main political actors also agreed to scrap the post of Executive Mayor in towns and cities, a development that received mixed views within civil society, some arguing that the MDC had been duped by ZANU PF as they interpreted the decision as essentially a way of diluting the MDC power base in the main cities and towns which since 2000 had fallen to the MDC. However, while the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment No 18 had its own grey areas, it gave birth to a number of positive electoral changes, for instance changes in the polling process that made it mandatory to post poll results at polling stations using V 11, 12, V13 18

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